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Milton adds teeth to dog ordinance

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
October 5, 2011
— The Milton City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday that will allow the city to issue ordinance tickets to owners of dogs that bite or injure people in public.

The council waved a second and third reading on the new ordinance, putting it in place immediately. The ordinance is based on a state statute that prohibits people from owning dogs that injure others.


It means the city now can issue an ordinance ticket to the owner of a dog that bites or injures a person or another animal while it's outside of the owner's property, Milton Police Chief Dan Layber said.


The ordinance shores up a gap in Milton's existing city codes on animal control. The city already required people to keep dogs on a leash in public, but it had nothing on the books on dogs that bite or cause injury to people or other animals.


The city learned of the gap in its code this summer when a person was bitten by a dog while a girl was walking the dog with a leash, Layber said. The bite happened on a city sidewalk near a street.


"The dog kind of dragged the girl along, but the whole time the dog was under leash control. We couldn't write any tickets for it biting anyone. Our ordinance is only for animals running at large," said Layber. "We just didn't have a specific dog bite ordinance."


The new ordinance is separate from and would not take the place of county rules that require the issuance of bite orders, and in some cases, quarantine of dogs that have bitten or attacked people or other animals.


Municipal Judge Kris Koeffler has not yet suggested fines for the ordinance, Clerk of Courts Kris Klubertanz said.


The ordinance also amends existing city code on animals running at large. It requires owners to keep dogs on a leash no longer than 6 feet while in public.


People can still use retractable dog leashes as long as they don't let out more than 6 feet of leash, Layber said. He said the requirement will help ensure that people keep their dogs under control.


The cities of Janesville and Edgerton have codes that require animals to be leashed. Both communities also have ordinances that prevent people from owning dogs that attack or bite people, said Janesville Police Lt. Keith Lawver and Edgerton City Administrator Ramona Flanigan.


Layber said Milton's new ordinance also would apply to the city's dog park. Dogs would be allowed to be off-leash while at the park, but if a dog bit or injured a person or another animal at the park, the city could issue the dog's owner a ticket.


Under the ordinance, the city also could cite an owner if their dog bit a person while on the owners' property if it can be proven the attack was unprovoked, City Attorney Mark Schroeder said.



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